Spring has sprung in Williamsburg. The birds are chirping, the weather is getting warmer, and the pollen is freaking everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. I’m showering twice a day to get the flower sperm off my face and out of my eyes and hair (okay, gross). Showering once a day is bad enough, but twice is downright depressing when I’m doing the fancy dance I do to get in the shower without catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I hate being naked. I’ve always hated being naked. I had to be the only toddler on the whole planet that would rather be in tights and a frilly dress than running around in a diaper — and as much as I’d like to attribute that fact to my early sense of fashion, I can’t. And it hasn’t gotten better since I’ve gotten older. When I’m naked, I feel vulnerable, like the mere act of taking my clothes off exponentially increases the likelihood that I’ll encounter rapists, intruders and creepy crawlies.
Vulnerability isn’t even the worst of it. At least those fears are laid aside when I’m joined by another naked person. Truth be told, I’m way more comfortable in clothes because they smooth me out and hide all the fat and flab I can’t help but notice when I’m naked. It’s a horrible thing I do to myself, and I’m not the only one. I would never let someone say the things about my body that I say to myself when I look in the mirror. It doesn’t just plague me in the moments I’m getting ready, either. Sometimes that negative voice seems the loudest when I’m naked with someone else. Is there anything less sexy than thinking about whether your jeans are giving you a muffin top when you’re straddling someone on the couch?
The negative things we say about our bodies, to ourselves and to others are the biggest disservice we do to ourselves. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when you’re having a venting session with your friends, but it can make you feel totally worthless when you’re repeating those things to yourself when you look in the mirror or wondering if the person you’re with is thinking those same things. No matter how great the sex is, if I start thinking about my lower stomach flab or my thunder thighs, I talk myself out of an orgasm faster than you can say “love handles.”
In my own experience, I have never looked at the naked person’s body sitting, standing or lying in front of me and thought, “I wish I could change my partner’s [insert physical attribute here].” Once I’m lucky enough to get someone naked, I’m way too busy thinking about how great it is that they’re naked. It’s like my brain is yelling, and I really can’t focus on anything else. I also have never had anyone say to me, “You know, your ass is too fat,” or, “Your boobs are too big; more than a handful is just too much.” Despite the notable lack of criticism from others, our internal criticism still pervades our experiences if we let it.
With bikini season quickly approaching, I’m not going to resolve to hit the gym or deny myself things I want to eat. I’m going to try a different approach: I want to look at myself every day in the mirror and think of one thing I like about it or one thing my body does for me. We as a society spend too much time hating the very thing that makes life livable. No one deserves the kind of abuse we so willingly dish out to ourselves.
So I hope you try it, too. Get naked. Enjoy being naked. Get comfortable in your skin and everything that comes with it. It’s worth silencing that pesky voice constantly putting you down. It’s equally worth enjoying sex without the doubt — it’s just way too hard to have an orgasm if all you’re thinking about is sucking it in.
Tyna H is a Behind Closed Doors Columnist and she hopes you learn to love your love handles.